Spencer Stuart Acquires Ireland-Based MERC Partners

July 15, 2019 – Executive search firm Spencer Stuart has acquired MERC Partners, a leading executive search and leadership consulting firm based in Ireland. Financial terms of deal were not disclosed. The addition of MERC Partners marks Spencer Stuart’s first client-facing team in Ireland and represents an important addition for its EMEA and global business.

Spencer Stuart has had a sizeable corporate operations team based in Dublin for nearly a decade, supporting areas such as technology, legal and intellectual property.

“We are excited to expand our presence in Ireland by welcoming the team at MERC Partners to the Spencer Stuart family,” said Henrik Maartensson, who co-leads the EMEA region for Spencer Stuart. “By formally establishing a client-facing presence in Ireland, we will be better able to serve our clients around the world in this significant and dynamic European market.”

“MERC Partners has an outstanding leadership team and talented colleagues, and they have collectively built a successful and vibrant business in Ireland,” said Mr. Maartensson. “We are impressed by the strength of the team and their capabilities, the firm’s client base and our cultural compatibility. It is clear we share a common belief that deep insight and relationships can fuel the kind of impact that is essential to the success of clients and candidates alike.”

Well Aligned

Ruth Curran, managing partner of MERC Partners, will continue to lead the team post-acquisition. “We are delighted to unite MERC Partners with Spencer Stuart,” said Ms. Curran. “Our firms’ cultures, values and collaborative, client-focused approach are well aligned. In addition, this combination will enable our team and our clients to access an expanded portfolio of capabilities globally across Spencer Stuart’s many offices and practices. We look forward to a fruitful partnership with our new colleagues that is sure to lead to exceptional outcomes for the clients, candidates and leadership teams that we are honored to serve every day.”

Related: Acquisitions Continue Among Search Firms

Founded in 1980 and based in Dublin, MERC Partners specializes in the appointment, assessment and development of senior business leaders for many notable multinational corporations as well as privately owned and public sector organizations in Ireland. Its offerings also include leadership advisory, interim management and the appointment of non-executive directors.

This spring, Spencer Stuart reached a definitive agreement with global professional services firm Aon to acquire certain businesses within its talent practice, specifically its culture and engagement, leadership development and advisory, and related products and services. Financial terms of the deal have not been undisclosed.

“Leaders everywhere are striving to increase their organizations’ performance and agility, often by pulling the essential levers of strategy, finance, technology and more,” said Ben Williams, CEO of Spencer Stuart. “We believe the single greatest lever is people, mobilized through leadership, culture and engagement.”

Complementary Services

An engaged workforce is a competitive advantage that drives higher productivity, innovation and retention, he said. “Engagement is also an essential measure of effective leadership, and brings valuable, relevant data to the critical leadership decisions businesses need to make. Adding these capabilities from Aon will enable us to work with boards and C-suite leaders more closely on a matter of increasing importance to them.”


Spencer Stuart Acquires Several Business Units of Aon

With culture shaping now seen as one of the most important drivers to achieve competitive advantage among companies, many search firms – including the global leaders as well as the boutiques – now offer some variation of it. It includes human capital management, business transformation strategy, leader engagement, talent optimization, organizational development, HR transformation, and leadership and talent management.

To bolster its leadership in the space, executive search firm Spencer Stuart has reached a definitive agreement with global professional services firm Aon to acquire certain businesses within its talent practice, specifically its culture and engagement, leadership development and advisory, and related products and services.


These offerings will complement Spencer Stuart’s portfolio of leadership advisory services — executive assessment and development, CEO succession, team effectiveness, culture shaping, board effectiveness and the people side of merger integration.

“We are pleased to add these capabilities in engagement, leadership development and related advisory services to our noted expertise in leadership and organizational culture,” said Patrick Hynes, who leads Spencer Stuart’s leadership advisory services. “More and more leaders now understand that to win on the outside, you first have to win on the inside. These capabilities in using online experiences to go more deeply within organizations, and added expertise in HR effectiveness, will also expand our collective ability to help address the important leadership and talent needs of top teams.”

“Selling the culture, engagement, and leadership development & advisory businesses provides an opportunity for Spencer Stuart to create greater value for clients, given their focus on talent and leadership,” said Cary Grace, CEO of Aon’s retirement and investment solutions.

The transaction was expected to close in several months, subject to customary closing conditions. It is anticipated that this business will operate as a distinct and important new entity within the Spencer Stuart organization. It involves about 550 employees in 26 countries globally.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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